If the shoe fits…..buy it…..over and over again. This has been my experience with the Brooks T7 Racer for the past four years. Amidst another plentiful race season, I feel it necessary to share my experience with this shoe. From my first 5k to this year’s NYC Marathon, the T7 goes the distance for me. Perfect for racing and/or tempo runs or track sessions. Don’t expect high mileage from these, expect speed.
***Disclaimer*** I have a slender frame that has been referred to as sinewy. With a height of 5ft 11inches and a weight of only 144 pounds, my shoes don’t take much of a beating. Because of my stride and my weight, I can get away with running a full marathon in this shoe but for normal to heavier runners, I think the shoe would be more suitable for 5k-Half Marathon distances.
When you try the shoe on for the first time, you’ll notice a few things. The first thing you’ll notice is that the shoe is TIGHT. It’s snug in the toe box, it hugs the arch, and it has a strong heal counter that locks your foot in place. This will probably turn a lot of runners away but hear me out. My feet aren’t wide and they’re not narrow either. They’re average width with a normal arch and I run on my forefoot so my toes tend to spread out more. The shoe still works great with the snug fit because of the flexibility of the upper. After only one or two runs, the shoes break in nicely. When I run fast, I don’t like a lot of movement in my shoes. Too much movement equals blisters for me.
The next thing you’ll notice when you try this shoe on is the significant heel-to-toe drop. It is extremely noticeable when you’re just standing or walking in the shoes, but because you’ll be running in them, that won’t matter. I know that drop is pretty large considering most minimal shoes these days are moving toward flatter, lower drops that will “supposedly” encourage less heal striking. I say “supposedly” because I land mostly on my forefoot and this shoe works great for running on your toes. In fact, the flatter forefoot gives a nice feel for the road underneath and encourages a faster turnover. Also, if you tend to revert to a mid-foot or light heal strike when your calfs get tired on longer runs, there is still plenty of cushion underneath.
The third thing you might notice is the extremely lightweight feel. Weighing in at only 6.4 Oz’s, the T7 is built for one thing. Speed. The upper is made from a lightweight nylon material with synthetic cloth overlays that are sewed in for structure and durability. An offset lacing system with paper thin laces pulls the upper from both sides of the shoe ensuring a snug fit, especially in the arch. The shoe is marketed as a high-arch shoe, but I found it to be very adaptable. What I mean by this is that most of the arch support doesn’t come from the sole, but rather from the flexible sidewall of the nylon/cloth upper. This means that the arch fit will depend on how tight you lace the shoe. Furthermore, the upper is practically seamless with smooth, soft fit all the way around.
Another reason the shoe is so light weight is due to the lack of rubber tread. The bottom of the shoe has only two rubber tread pieces on the heel and very dense EVA foam covering the rest of the surface of the sole. This tread grips really nicely to to all types of road surfaces and works well in wet conditions too. Actually, better than some rubber treads. You might think that the lack of tread will make the shoe wear faster, which I’m sure it does for heavier runners, but in my experience the cushion in the sole becomes compressed before the tread wears out. Because of this, you won’t get a lot of miles out of this shoe but keep in mind, it’s not built for that. The T7 Racer is a run specific shoe that should be used during races or faster training runs. Simply put, it’s my weapon of choice when I want to run fast. And if for some reason I show up to a group run wearing these, just think of it as a friendly challenge….
Please feel free to post any questions or comments. As far as sizing goes, I normally wear a size 9 in Brooks PureProject shoes but have to go up to a 9.5 in this model. The shoe is unisex so women should size down 1 full to 1.5 size smaller. For example, if you normally wear a women’s size 8 try on a men’s 6.5 or 7.